Nairobi – More than 500 experts, governments, civil society, academia and private sector representatives from Africa and other regions have agreed on the agenda of regional cooperation and the acceleration of geothermal development in Africa, such as the Eighth African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGEO C8) concluded on 6 November.
Participants recognized the need for capacity development for geothermal practitioners to ensure effective development of these projects through the newly established African Geothermal Center of Excellence. To ensure successful exploration and development, it has been agreed that geothermal resources should be anchored in knowledge-based exploration that informs decision makers to develop appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks.
The Government of Kenya hosted the five-day virtual conference, entitled “Energy and Sustainability, which used the moment to invest in geothermal resources for sustainable development”, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the African branch. of the International Geothermal Association, the Kenya Electricity Generating Company, the Geothermal Development Company as well as the Geothermal Association of Kenya.
In his opening speech, Charles Keter, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy in Kenya, emphasized the need for innovation and capacity building in the development of geothermal energy to stimulate economic and social growth on the continent.
“This conference provides Kenya with a platform to build partnerships with other African countries that are in different stages of geothermal development, and to deepen cooperation on skills, capacity and technology transfer,” Keter said.
Participants recognized the direct use of geothermal resources as a potential game changer for the economy and livelihoods of rural communities across the continent through meaningful community participation in the development and implementation of geothermal projects.
Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, director and regional representative of UNEP’s Africa office, pointed out that the conference and its outcomes would contribute to the achievement of the SDGs’ objective 7 on affordable and clean energy.
“Renewable energy can and will change the African energy challenges and story. Statistics on energy consumption in Africa reveal a worrying scenario; Africa has 13% of the world population, but its share of global electricity consumption is less than 3% and only “25% of Africans have access to electricity. More than 70% of Africa is dependent on traditional biomass fuels,” she said.
Delegates have agreed to increase geothermal resources with a capacity of at least 2,500 MW of electricity in the region by 2030. Geothermal stakeholders will continue to work with UNEP under the ARGeo program to create regional networking platforms to raise awareness of the potential of global warming in Africa.
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former President of Iceland, also addressed the conference and revealed that the rapid industrial development of his country was spurred by his investment in renewable energy projects through the development of geothermal energy.
“We advocate that food production should be part of the geothermal development dimension. Solar, wind power and geothermal energy are the basis to help us fight the pandemic of pollution by fossil fuels and dirty energy, which kills up to about 7 million people across the country. “We are determined to continue this geothermal cooperation with African countries,” he said.
In her remarks during the virtual conference, Amani Abu-Zeid, Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure of the African Union (AU), said that the AU recognizes the need for regional cooperation, as well as the participation of the private sector and international institutions to invest in to accelerate the development of geothermal resources in the region. She reaffirmed the need to develop the skills of home-grown experts through local institutions and also emphasized the need for women to be present and visible throughout the geothermal value chain.
Delegates also agreed to work through the newly launched Africa Women Advancing Geothermal as well as the African Geothermal Association to promote co-operation and exchange of information in the region.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) project is a GEF-funded project implemented by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
ARGeo was officially launched in November 2010 during the opening session of the Third African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGeo-C3) in Djibouti. The project aims to support the development of the large untapped potential for geothermal resources in the East Africa region, with the main aim of reducing the risks associated with the exploration of the resource. It is also aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the use of geothermal energy in the region.
The GEF-funded project was completed in 2019. The Post GEF UNEP ARGeo program received approval for its biennial strategy (2021-22) during the ARGeo Steering Committee meeting held on 2 November 2020.
About the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
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For more information contact:
Mohamed Atani, Head of Communications and Outreach at UNEP Africa Office
Benard Namunane, Communications Officer, Ministry of Energy, Kenya